Looked Up
Off the Wall, April 21,

Back on Good Friday, I was attending Church services at Holy Family Church in Latrobe. As is my practice, anymore, I like to sit in the first pew where, most the time, nobody else sits. That way, I feel I am not disturbing others when I use the oxygen device. I consider it a bit noisy and don’t want to disturb anyone.

Anyway, as is the tradition, after the priest brings the cross up to the front of the congregation near the altar, parishioners are invited to kiss it as a way of expressing love toward Jesus Christ for dying on it for our sinfulness.

After going first, I am quick to return to my seat, kneel down, say my prayers and then watch others follow suit. People of all ages come forward. Not all kiss the cross at the same place. I don’t mean this as a pun, but it’s touching to see how each puts his or her heart and soul into conveying his inner most thoughts.

So, as I kneeled there, I observed one very serious little tyke walk slowing to the large wooden object, appearing somewhat shaken by its appearance. Very reverently, he slid his feet along the stone floor toward it, never taking his eye off of it, finally kissing it, looking off to the side, and then walking in that direction. His brother, who could be a twin, behaved very similarly.

Behind him was his father with a younger lad in his arms, leading another one with his other arm. Holding the child’s hand, he knelt down and kissed the cross. The little fellow watched as his father went through the motions. Here’s the part that struck me.

Looking up in total awe, with his mouth open and eyes staring, watching him go through every step of every motion, he decided right there and then, he wanted to do just as his dad did. Yanking back as both were walking away, the suited gentleman understood and turned around. Leading his father back one foot and one-half, the lad inched his way down and slowly kissed the cross.

What could have been going through this youth’s mind? Was it, “Well, if Daddy can do it, I can do it?” I don’t think so. I believe it went deeper than that. I couldn’t help but sense his parents educated all youngsters as to what happened this day. How much each child comprehended was individualistic. But this little fellow knew what Daddy did was very special, and he could possibly do it, too, and he would not only try, but also succeed.

Did his father try to deter the youngster from committing the act? Quite the contrary. After getting to the cross, he allowed him to go through the motions, watching, waiting. Clutching his father’s hand, the two then headed toward the side aisle.

I’m sure the memory will remain in all the hearts who may have looked at this act, particularly me. I, for one, will never forget it.

That reminds me many years ago as I looked over the shoulder of my son, Aaron, as he was attempting very diligently to write his name. As I watched him go about his task, he began to mimic a popular song – “ I want to do it just like you Dad, I want mine just like yours.” The words are similar to the hit, Cats in the Cradle, by Harry Chapin, which was released in the 70’s.

Aaron was definitely living out his impressionistic years and I was one to whom he looked up, so he would try to write as I did. That only lasted a little while and then he developed his own ways of doing everything, not saying they were bad. He had become his own self, doing good things, using his own style, signing his name his way.

When it comes right down to it, my son didn’t do anything differently than anyone else, did he? Male or female, there was something that our parents did that we wanted to copy. For the guys, it could have been woodworking in the shop. For the gals, some special recipe in the kitchen, such as red cabbage, or banana bread, could have been the special dish. We all looked up to grandma for her potato soup, for example.

Praise the Almighty; we have a Father Who we can always look up to for His everlasting love, mercy, and guidance in the ways of righteousness.

- Paul J. Volkmann
Contact me by email

To buy my book, Off the Wall Favorites, call me at 724-539-8850.